“Vice is easy, virtue is hard” is a common mantra that I don’t believe to be true. The default perception of virtue is that it’s a thing to struggle towards, while vice is very easy to pick up and “enjoy”. While some vices and some virtues do fit this preconception, I find it hard to believe that it’s true for everything, or even most things. Is a productive hobby really so “hard” to do when you are driven by the enjoyment from it? Is helping a friend really that difficult if you care for them, or like spending time with them? Is tending to the emotional needs of a lover, whom you care for deeply, all that difficult?
The answer is yes.
These things are difficult, that’s why they’re not common anymore, but their difficulty does not come from the action itself, but rather the initiation of an action. To explain what I mean, let’s talk a difficult vice:
Enjoying dead baby rape pornography is a vice, and likely one of the most repugnant and disgusting ones there is, however, for most people, it’s incredibly difficult to do (thankfully). If you don’t find it difficult, please see these resources. If you showed your average porn addict such repugnant content, I’d wager it’s rather unlikely that they’ll find it enjoyable. To condition someone to enjoy something as rancid as dead baby rape pornography, it’d likely take years of conditioning, abuse, and luck to do so. Getting into dead baby rape is a rather hard thing to do, but once you did sink that low, it’s likely that it’d be rather easy to continue to foster that vice. It’s difficult to get in, but easy to stay in once inside.
Akin to getting into dead baby rape pornography, getting into friendships is a rather difficult task (but probably not as difficult as getting into dead baby rape pornography, but please don’t test that statement for accuracy). Since both tasks are difficult, they’re becoming more uncommon.
So, given that the difficulty is mostly on starting virtue rather than continuing it, lowering the difficulty of entry for most virtuous behaviors would be a rather easy way of letting virtue persist.
I primarily wish to focus on this subject on the topic of the internet, as the internet is the number one place to dive into vice. It’s an endless stream of time burning content. Installing Steam or TikTok onto your personal computing devices is a sure fire way to time-travel far into the future, with no way back!.
Right now, vice is easy to access, and virtue is difficult. People often say the solution is to ban vice, but this solution completely ignores the fact that virtue isn’t an inherently difficult task, but rather a contextually difficult one as established. If the barrier to entry virtue is simply lower, then vice becomes less appealing on a large scale (but not 100% unappealing). Things can still be done to counter the accessibility of vice, such as property owners prohibiting certain classes of people or merchants of vice on their lands and early childhood conditioning against certain behaviors. The options are less violent and less expensive than legal banning by a coercive and violent government.
The problem with “Based” solutions.
Still, I feel as if these “based” solutions of outright banning vice or taking other forms of hostility and warring against it should be addressed due to their prevalence. Particularly, this involves dismissing the “just ban vice-filled content”, solution; This is the “Based” solution if you will. On it’s surface, it’s clean and simple. Just get rid of the bad and that’ll stop the problem, however, this solution is technically retarded.
Most solutions of this vernacular never specify who will be removing the bad content, but most of the time, it ends up being the government. I advocate for a system that is more in line with the concept of a “private-law” society, and thus cannot advocate for any government intervention. This view is rather uncommon however, and I will grant the state as a moral being, worthy of existing, to be true for merely pragmatic considerations given that statism is a rather common opinion.
The government, specifically democratic governments, are very unstable and shifting creatures. The control of power changes quite often in democratic societies, and always moves towards a more vile direction. To ever advocate for a democratic government to become involved with the management of anything is to advocate that a tool be handed off to it, and eventually lie in the hands of the vile. In the short term, it may fix the problem, but eventually “vile content” will extend from gruesome rape porn to “hate speech”, or other politically motivated nonsense. This is not a slippery slope fallacy as well, as the nature of democratic governments is constantly shifting, and it’s shifting and bending towards the institutions that hold power in our society, primarily those who manufacture our narratives, which, are currently not very good people.
However, most of those advocating for banning vice that I find hold at least mild anti-democratic sensibilities. Because of this, they’d likely advocate for dictator, monarch, or theocrat to be the one to regulate society with the violent force of coercive law. Again, as an advocate of private-law rather than public-law, I have to disagree with this conceptually due to it effectively making a monopoly, which has no reason to ever provide the services it advertises given that there is a lack of material retribution for their actions. Rather through conspiracy or entropy, even the most noble of institutions claiming to be for the good of humanity, if left unchecked, can become infiltrated by enemies and grifters against the organization itself. This is a flaw in trusting centralized systems, without competition, with the project of human regulation and governance: even if the best people are in charge, the best people can be replaced with the worst. My solution to this is beyond the scope of this article, but I believe my critiques, at the minimum, should provide some well-meaning skepticism of even our most benevolent of dictators.
Let’s make virtue accessible.
Often, people drowning themselves in vice are people who are unhappy with reality. These days, anyone not blind can see why people are unhappy with reality. In much of the west, it’s hard to get by. Everyone rents, no one owns. Most jobs are banal, if not downright torturous. Establishing any sincere connection with others requires playing games upon games just to test the waters of what you are and aren’t allowed to say. If you’re young in the west, it’s just not a good time to be alive, and it’s really not going to get better any time soon.
Because of that, people plug themselves into the vice machine, so they no longer have to see the world around them. A drunk doesn’t need to recognize his faults and bad environment if he can down a bottle of vodka and kill his rationality after all. However, the vice machine in the context of this article isn’t just a vice machine, it’s the internet: a type of information and communication machine. An information and communication machine that tends to produce vice, but can also produce virtue with the right tooling.
So, what people who care about society need to do, is make finding organized, virtuous content easy to get your hands on. This means simplifying the discovery and execution of content that can lead to positive outcomes.
For example, making a system that makes getting a job easier that isn’t subject to enshittification would promote virtuous activity on the internet. Similarly, directories of public content, particularly personal websites and wikis that are related to one topic, would also promote more virtuous content produced. Hours spent on a gardening wiki will give your information about gardening; hours spend on TikTok will maybe get you horny if you happen to be an ephebophile.
This project alone, however, won’t solve everything, as you still need to pull people out of the vice cycle and get them away from dead baby porn and fortnite (or whatever the kids these days are into). This will require pulling a lot of teeth, and is the job of the more virtuous to do on a person-by-person basis. Virtue is something that can only be skillfully practiced by trusting the human themselves to act in a manner that is good, not by enforcing it from the top down, as such a thing will erode human agency, and make them dependent on whatever is forcing them to act in a virtuous manner. That institution could fall, or be corrupted, and could send society into a death spiral very similar to our own. Similar to a child who depends on their mother to make decisions for him, if the mother dies and there is no sufficient replacement, the child will die with the mother indirectly. Dependency is a weakness to be exploited by enemies of goodness, and cannot be allowed to foster, unless we’re after some kind of exploitable virtue. Because of this, either through natural hardship or education, virtue must be built internally and reinforced socially.
Let’s not save everyone (for our own good).
Back to the subject of the internet, not everyone should come along on this internet de-shittification project, some people are subject to such media-induced brain rot that any and all of their contributions to a virtuous internet would be completely negative. There is very little doubt in my mind that the average person spending 4 to 6 hours of their life on TikTok or Instagram every day is someone who has nothing of value to provide to the world in terms of informational content. These people should be condemned to their own rot and self-induced suffering. Most people want eternal suffering anyway, so let’s just let them have it, and try to build our own little world that’ll survive when their all-engulfing media-mother dies under her own weight.
The rest of society, those of us who are sane and want to do something productive or virtuous, can then move on to our own islands of information dedicated to whatever we would like without the risk of being drowned out by viceful content. Those communities can be actively maintained by interested parties, and ideally, these organizations of people should be organized in such a way that they are not subject to enshittification by administrative buy-out. The best way to do this would be by making web-rings of sites that are similar or topically related and slapping a search engine onto them for sake of ease of use. Combine that with some peer-to-peer network akin to Zeronet to lower the barrier of entry further, and then maybe we’ll start to see a better internet come along.
Maybe there are some other ways of implementing this, but the goal is to focus on individually produced and curated content, ideally organized around a certain task or topic. This structure will benefit those looking for the lost art of “starting” on a task. Knowing where to learn something is just as important as learning it.
But who will start?
Ideally, me, and you, and anyone else who reads this article. The move away from the nasty and viceful internet will require people who care about something to write about and document the thing they care about. From there, these people must find other similar people and confederate with them together. Once that’s complete, then those confederations should confederate together. Perhaps a new internet protocol (or an extension of an old one) can help facilitate this, but for now, all this must be done manually, and the content must come first. Only once this happens can we have an internet with virtuous content that can fight back the time-wasting and viceful internet.